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Is Moscow ready to deplore and forgive Poland’s fit of self-pity?

What’s next in the often strained relations between Moscow and Warsaw?




Deputy Minister of Justice of Poland Patryk Jaki upheld the surprisingly re-lapsed claims of Poland to receive compensations from Russia for the scrapped Peace of Riga signed in 1921. He added enthusiastically: Russia on par with Germany should bear responsibility for its “actions” against Poland.

The government officials in Warsaw would like to be paid 30 million rubles in gold, as stipulated in the 1921 treaty. Polish PM Beata Shidlo recurred the habitual rite of “doing justice” to the much suffered nation, which sadly is true.

However, the initial statement by an MP of Polish Sejm that the Russian Federation, as the successor of the Soviet Union and, consequently, of Soviet Russia (existed before the creation of the union), should pay war reparations dating back almost a hundred years have left Moscow largely unimpressed.

Not only because these demands came on the heels of a similar claim of $45 billion (38 billion euros) in compensation from Germany, which was vehemently rejected by lawmakers and lawyers in Berlin, but due to their both legal and political inadequacy.

Firstly, the sum in question remained unpaid because Moscow accused Warsaw of violating the treaty, which stipulated cessation of any kind of support for anti-Russian opposition groups and a halt to what was regarded as subversive actions. Secondly, as claimed by Russian historian Vladimir Simindley, the Peace of Riga agreement is no longer valid.

In his turn, Dmitry Surzhik, a researcher with the Institute of General History (RAS) believes that no one among the Polish decision-makers seriously counts on being “compensated” and, in reality, this huffing and puffing targets predominantly the domestic audience to beef up ultra-nationalist sentiment.

Bitterness of unfulfilled ambitions

Given both the authoritarian trend in internal politics pursued by the ruling Law and Justice party and the criticism it has drawn from the EU collective leadership, this bellicose stance fits well into the traditional conservative (sometimes in the goods sense of it) mentality of the Polish elites.

Poland and the Polish nation have every right to be treated with compassion and indulgence, imho. Its turbulent history tends to repeats itself with a monotonous regularity, leaving deep scars in the national conscience but few traces of sour lessons well learnt to be avoided in the future.

Poland is too often in the grips of its past imperial ambition to build a formidable realm “from sea to sea”, or Intermarium (Międzymorze in Polish).

This concept was originally put forward by Polish leader, strongman Józef Piłsudski who envisaged a federation of Central and Eastern European countries with Poland as the apparent focal point. The federation would have incorporated the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Finland, Romania, Yugoslavia, and also Belarus and Ukraine.

The proposed Poland-led amalgamation of states would have stepped into the shoes of the defunct Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. It complemented another of Piłsudski’s geopolitical goals: the dismemberment of Russia. It would have covered an area stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Since the absorption of Yugoslavia was also on the mind, Poland must have contemplated to reach out to the Adriatic shores as well.

The grand scheme failed to raise enthusiasm among the targeted nations and did not meet with approval of most Western European countries. One of the unspoken reasons was the original drive of Polish nobility to create an empire with dependent nations deprived of the same civil rights and privileges as the core nation, the Poles. This ethnic-centered construct was doomed to failure.

Today, when the ideological chief-crusader of the Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, declares, “Polish government is preparing itself for a historical counteroffensive”, it is worth reviewing the precedents when Poland led the charge against or was irritating by its erratic behavior Germany and Russia simultaneously. This time, however, the Polish ruling class is also bravely, or rather abrasively, challenging the authority of the European Union whose membership it craved for and cherished for so long.

Maybe the Polish elites now in charge in Warsaw, now regularly accused of being nationalistic by Brussels, know something that others do not?

Waking up the dormant giant

Probably, the most symbolic and far-reaching consequences of the stubborn exercises in by Poland and the Baltic States in limitrophe arrogance – they kept poking the Russian bear in the eye with demands of reparations and compensations for years – have emerged only now. The Russian blogosphere has erupted with indignation and demands of retribution, which is still in stark contrast with the meek reaction some twenty years ago.

The emotional response by a certain Alexander Staver is exemplary. He quoted a document prepared by the team of scholars under three-star general Alexander Pokrovsky who headed the scientific research department of the General Staff. The statistics they found shows that the overall expenditures of the Soviet Union related to weapons and material equipment used for the purpose of liberating Poland from fascist rule and occupation totaled 26 720 959 000 rubles. It constitutes $70 billion in current prices. Moreover, in 1944-1945 the Soviet government spent 211 335 000 rubles alone on the restoration of Poland’s railways that served them well afterwards.

Professor Lev Klepatzky of the Russian Diplomatic Academy thought it appropriate to draw comparison between the pre-war Poland, hardly a well-to-do nation in Europe, which lost almost 40% of national wealth during German occupation, and post-war Poland. By 1949, the manufacturing production per capita soared 2.5-fold. Despite being ravaged by war and with many citizens still starving, the Soviet Union supplied grain seeds to Poland. It was indeed a humanitarian aid but it did go unnoticed too.

Then again, due to the advocacy of the Soviet negotiators within the “Big Three” alliance, Poland received 1137 German plants, which were stripped of equipment, moved across border, and reassembled.

If it were not for the Soviet Union, Poland would have never increased its land mass by almost 30%. The addition of Silesia and Eastern Pomerania was a boost for the economic development: German researchers estimate that the natural resources of these regions enriched post-war Poland by $130 billion.

Moreover, one of the Russian feedbackers reminded in his post that in cases when a Western airline is found guilty for the crash it could be sentenced by court to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims sometimes to the amount of $3.000.000 per every passenger. It led to the suggestion to demand similar compensation for the lost lives of 600.000 Russian soldiers who died while driving away German troops and SS henchmen from Poland.

Not only the Russian public is feeling betrayed and maltreated by Poland and the Baltic States with their attempts to extort money but also even the authorities are showing signs of exasperation. Look for proof in comments by rank-and file readers in the blogosphere and (sic!) in the recent statement by Russian Ambassador to Lithuania that Moscow has the legitimate right to demand compensation of $72 billion for the Soviet-times investments into this previously poor marginal rural area on the fringes of Europe.

*   *   *

Is it a turning point? It sure looks like it. Russians noted for their proverbial patience start to lose this seemingly inherent trait of national character. Previously, it would be correct to expect Moscow simply to deplore and forgive Poland’s fits of self-pity and attempts to play out of its league. Nowadays, the Russian public seems to become more aware of the national interests and is more likely to pressure the authorities to stand up to all kind of intrusions, either by action or by word of mouth.



US Sanctions Foster Emergence of Multipolar World

US sanctions negatively affect the economies of the targeted countries, but they also push the nations hit by them to move closer to each other.



Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

Russia, Iran, China, and now Turkey are in the same boat, as all have become the target of US sanctions. But none of those nations has bowed under the pressure. Russia had foreseen the developments in advance and took timely measures to protect itself. The Turkish national currency, the lira, is plummeting now that Washington has introduced sanctions as well as tariffs on steel and aluminum, in an attempt to compel Ankara to turn over a detained American pastor. Turkish President Erdogan said it was time for Turkey to seek “new friends,” and Turkey is planning to issue yuan-denominated bonds to diversify its foreign borrowing instruments. On Aug. 11, President Erdogan said Turkey was ready to begin using local currencies in its trade with Russia, China, Iran, Ukraine, and the EU nations of the eurozone.

The recent BRICS summit reaffirmed Ankara’s commitment to the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) that is geared toward de-dollarizing its member states’ economies, and the agreement to quickly launch a Local Currency Bond Fund gives that policy teeth. Turkey has also expressed its desire to join BRICS.

Ankara is gradually moving toward membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It has been accepted as a dialog partner of that organization. Last year Turkey became a dialog partner with ASEAN. On Aug. 1, the first ASEAN-Turkey Trilateral Ministerial Meeting was held in Singapore, bringing together Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt ÇavuşoğluASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is serving as the 2018 ASEAN term chairman. The event took place under the auspices of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that attracted foreign ministers and top diplomats from 30 countries.

Ankara is mulling over a free-trade area (FTA) agreement with the Eurasian Union. This cooperation between Ankara and the EAEU has a promising future.

Meanwhile, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has provided a $3.6-billion loan package for the Turkish energy and transportation sector. Turkey and China have recently announced an expansion of their military ties. As one can see, Turkey is inexorably pivoting from the West to the East.

Russia has a special role to play in this process. The US Congress has prohibited the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey because of the risk associated with Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 air-defense system. In response, Turkey is contemplating a purchase of Russian warplanes. Ankara prefers Russian weapons over the ones offered by NATO states. As President Erdogan put it, “Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives.”

On Aug. 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan discussed the prospects for boosting economic cooperation. Both nations are parties to the ambitious Turkish Stream natural-gas pipeline project. Ideas for ways to join forces in response to the US offensive were also on the agenda during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Turkey, Aug. 13-14, although Syria was in the spotlight of the talks. One mustn’t forget that Russia was the first country to be visited by the Turkish president after the failed 2016 coup.

As a result of some tough times resulting from US sanctions, Iran is redoubling its efforts at building foreign relationships. Under US pressure, European companies are leaving Iran, with China gradually filling the void. Now that US and European airspace companies are moving their business ventures out of Iran, this presents a good opportunity for Russian aircraft, such as the MS-21 or IL-96-400M. The Russian automaker GAZ Group is ready to supply Iran with commercial vehicles and light trucks powered by 5th generation engines.

Tehran is an observer state in the SCO, and it is to become an essential hub for the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI). On June 25, a freight train arrived in the Iranian city of Bandar-e Anzali, a port on the Caspian Sea, having passed through the China-Kazakhstan-Iran transportation corridor and entering the Anzali Free Zone that connects China to both the Kazakh port of Aktau and to Iran, thus creating a new trade link to the outside world. This gives a boost to the BRI. On Aug. 12, the five littoral states (the Caspian Five) signed the Caspian Sea Convention — the fruit of 22 years of difficult negotiations. This opens up new opportunities for Iran and other countries of the region as well as the BRI. The idea to form a new economic forum was floated at the Caspian Five summit.

China and Russia back the idea of Iran’s full-fledged SCO membership. In May Tehran signed an interim FTA agreement with the EAEU. Greater EAEU-BRI integration under the stewardship of the SCO is also on the horizon.

According to the Daily Express, Iran could band together with Russia and China in an anti-US alliance. Iran may also get an observer status in the CSTO. Iran-Turkey trade has recently revived, and that bilateral relationship includes burgeoning military cooperation.

Nothing can be viewed in just black and white, and every coin has two sides. The US sanctions do negatively affect the economies and finances of the targeted countries, but in the long run, they will also push the nations hit by them to move closer to each other, thus encouraging the emergence of the multipolar world the US is trying so hard to resist.

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It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran



Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:

Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

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Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou



Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

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